The importance of packaging innovations in the Swedish food sector

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Abstract in Undetermined
Packaging is of particular importance to retailers, since it can be considered
an integral part of the product and the first point of contact with the brand
(Rundh 2005). Over 73% of interviewed consumers rely on packaging to aid
their purchasing decisions (Wells et al. 2007), and retailers are the ‘gatekeepers’
to the consumers (Dobson et al. 2003) via the retail stores, where the packaging
of a product is what meets the eyes of consumers. Young (2008:26) simply states,
“The package is the product”, and packaging “combines the ‘4 Ps’ of marketing:
the package contains the product, packages convey messages about product
attributes to consumers as part of public relations, and often its price, while
also carrying promotions”, making it an integral part of the product (Hawkes
2010:297). Hence, innovations in packaging and packaging systems in the food
sector are intimately connected with the contained products; success or failure
can be due to either or both aspects. And the success rate of food products is
low: 80 to 90% of all launched products fail within the first year, in the USA
(Rudolph 1995), with similar figures in other countries. This might be due to
shortcomings in the methodology to develop (Stewart-Knox & Mitchell 2003)
or that the right business model to “capture value from innovations” has not
been designed (Teece 2010:183). And “value exists only if the consumer perceives
it as such” (Burt 1989:29).
Today, many retailers control the supply chain from producers to consumers
(Fernie & Sparks 2009), have expanded their range of differentiated private
labels (Burt & Sparks 2002) and increasingly compete with manufacturers’
brands, including in Sweden (Beckeman & Olsson 2011). This has resulted in
increased demands for more flexible production to meet a greater variety of
packaging sizes, products, recipes and delivery on demand, without increasing
The importance of packaging innovations in the
Swedish food sector 11
Chapter 11
the costs, and consequently smaller order sizes and varying designs (Van Donk
2001; Van Donk et al. 2008).
The real breakthrough for packaged food in Sweden came with the introduction
of frozen food in 1945 and self-service stores in 1947, both of which
demanded packaging (Beckeman 2006). These changes initiated efficient supply
chains, which together with a value perspective have become a necessity for
the different requirements of various food products (Fisher 1997; Gustafsson
et al. 2006). Food and beverages range from dry products to liquids, requiring
distribution/storage temperatures from ambient, via refrigerated to frozen.
Hence, product demands on packaging vary.
The broader background to this chapter can be found in a doctoral thesis
(Beckeman 2011) based on interviews with retailers, food manufacturers and
packaging suppliers active in Sweden. To our knowledge, no similar investigation
of the Swedish food sector of today has been carried out. The purpose was
to investigate how the three groups of actors view innovations in their own
area, their roles and the roles of other actors in the chain; i.e. if there is a gap of
opinions about innovations among them.
This chapter summarises the results from interviewing packaging suppliers
based on the following research questions:
• How do innovative Swedish packaging suppliers define innovations, and
how do they regard their own role in food innovations?
• What is the nature of the collaboration among packaging suppliers and
other actors in the supply chain regarding food innovations?
‘Consumer’ is defined as the end consumer of a food product, whereas a ‘customer’
can be a food manufacturer, a retailer or the next link in the packaging
supply chain, as packaging suppliers cannot be defined as one homogenous
group. They can be material producers, packaging converters, packaging
machinery suppliers and other relevant suppliers (Paine 2002), and can work as
partners, sub-suppliers and/or competitors with each other, depending on the
situation and the demands. In this mixture of packaging suppliers, some are
considered more innovative and successful than others, as previously suggested
by interviewed retailers (Beckeman & Olsson 2011) and food manufacturers
(Beckeman et al., in press) and are the focus of this study.
This chapter is organised as follows: it starts by summarising literature on
packaging and packaging functions and related to food innovations, continues
with methodology, including framework for analysis, which is followed by
results and analysis, and ends with conclusions.


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Titel på värdpublikationNordic Retail Research: Emerging diversity
RedaktörerJohan Hagberg, Ulrika Holmberg, Malin Sundström, Lars Walter
StatusPublished - 2012
Peer review utfördJa